California’s COVID-19 exposure notifications go live Thursday

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COVID-19 contact tracing is about to get easier in California.
COVID-19 contact tracing is about to get easier in California.
Photo: Brian McGowan/Unsplash CC

California will launch a COVID-19 exposure-notification system Thursday that uses smartphones to track interactions with infected people.

The state “has partnered with Google and Apple to launch a #COVID19 exposure notification app, CA Notify,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday on Twitter. “Starting Thursday, you can opt in to get push notifications on your phone if you have been exposed to COVID-19.”

Lack of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps shows limits of Apple’s power

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iOS 13.7 contact tracing feature: Life-saver, or NSA spy tool?
It's not Apple's fault. But it's certainly frustrating.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Apple and Google moved fast to develop a COVID-19 contact-tracing solution that was both smart and privacy conscious. Unfortunately, more than six months after the companies announced the cross-platform approach to contact tracing, few places in the United States use it.

It’s a tough lesson for the world’s biggest tech company. And one that everyone is a little bit poorer for having learned.

10 states now use Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API, with more on the way

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iOS 13.7 contact tracing feature: Life-saver, or NSA spy tool?
Several months later, Apple and Google's contact tracing tool is finally gaining momentum.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

More than two months after Virginia became the first state to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notifications API, a total of 10 states now distribute their own contact-tracing apps to fight COVID-19.

The two most recent — New York and New Jersey — launched their apps last week.

Apple hardware rumors come in hot and heavy [Cult of Mac Magazine 365]

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Apple rumors are coming in hot and heavy.
It's that time of year again.
Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

It’s officially Apple hardware season. With new gear coming as early as next week, the rumors and leaks are coming in fast and furious. Read the latest to get an idea what to expect in the near future from iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, Apple TV and maybe even some high-end Apple headphones.

Get those rumors, plus the rest of the week’s top Apple news, how-tos and reviews, in this week’s issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. Download it to read for free on your iPad or iPhone. Or scroll below to get the headlines in your browser.

Some iPhone owners refuse iOS 13.7 update over fear of COVID-19 contact tracing

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iOS 13.7 contact tracing feature: Life-saver, or NSA spy tool?
Life-saver, or new NSA spy tool?
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Some iPhone owners are refusing to install Apple’s latest software update for fear of being tracked. iOS 13.7, which Apple released Tuesday, makes COVID-19 contact tracing easier for government health agencies to implement — but some people claim its true purpose is more sinister.

“Another step towards a totally surveillanced state,” said one iPhone user on Twitter — and many others continue to voice similar complaints and fears.

Virginia launches first US COVID-19-tracking app using Apple-Google API

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Virginia's COVIDWISE contact-tracing app uses the Exposure Notifications API developed by Apple and Google.
Contact-tracing app is now live.
Photo: Virginia Department of Health

Virginia launched its COVIDWISE contact-tracing app Wednesday, becoming the first state to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notifications API to fight COVID-19.

The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy to anonymously track people’s interactions. Then it notifies users who have likely been exposed to infected individuals so they can take appropriate precautions, such as isolating themselves.

UK flip-flops on Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API, will now use it

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contact.tracing.5
UK's contact-tracing app has been delayed.
Photo: World Health Organization

The U.K. government, which clashed with Apple and Google over its approach to contact tracing, has reportedly done a U-turn and will now adopt the tech giants’ privacy-conscious framework for fighting COVID-19.

The BBC reported the change of heart Thursday, one day after revealing that a former Apple executive, Simon Thompson, has taken charge of the delayed project. Thompson, who works as chief product officer at online retailer Ocado, supervised Apple’s e-commerce efforts a decade ago.

What exactly does coronavirus tracking in iOS 13.5 do? Clearing up the confusion

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contact.tracing.5
Contact tracing could help slow spread of coronavirus.
Photo: World Health Organization

iOS 13.5 dropped Wednesday, introducing a slew of upgrades — including, most notably, the API for Apple’s coronavirus contact-tracing tool, developed in conjunction with Google.

But, despite what you might hear online, this is neither an “app” or an update that means downloaders are being tracked without their knowledge. Let’s correct a few popular misconceptions.

iOS 13.5 golden master means COVID-19 exposure notifications are almost here

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iOS 13.5 golden master is available only to developers.
The iOS 13.5 golden master gives developers an early look at a number of features related to COVID-19.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Starting Monday, iOS 13.5 golden master and the iPad equivalent are available for developers to test. The general public is likely to get access to them in a week or so.

This might be known as the COVID-19 update. It includes a number of new features, almost all focused on the current crisis. That includes the coronavirus contact-tracing tool Apple is developing in cooperation with Google.